The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Walter Mzembi says Zimbabwe respects decision by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to revoke the appointment of President Robert Mugabe as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Africa but said the global body is the biggest loser.

President Mugabe was appointed to the position during a high-level meeting on NCDs in Uruguay on Wednesday, but WHO Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today backtracked on his decision under pressure from Western forces.

“We respect the WHO decision as much as we respected their initial decision to honour our President,” said Dr Mzembi in response to the latest development.

“The inordinate noise around the designation of the President [Mugabe] as WHO Global Ambassador for Africa does not assist the cause in the first place. If anything it is WHO that has benefited tremendously from its decision in nominating  President Mugabe to lead the fight against NCDs through media  amplification of WHO itself, and curiosity by the general public on what really are NCDs, by tagging the name Mugabe to the debate. On a name recognition scale, this name beats them all, but it is our business to protect its brand equity from unnecessary besmirching.”

Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Walter Mzembi

“So on the balance, it is wiser to let go, and help WHO focus on its mandate while we focus Zimbabwe on its membership obligations.  That notwithstanding, the President will carry on with his passion for NCDs which are killing over 40 million people per annum with 80% of them from the developing world,” said Dr Mzembi.

The Minister added that Cde Mugabe is motivated more by the need to save lives than global ambassadorship.